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Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill starts journey through State Legislature

The Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill (AKA the Safe Neighborhood Speeds Bill and the 20’s Plenty Bill) has started its journey through the state legislature as HB 1045.

The bill would give municipalities the ability to cut through red tape when lowering the speed on non-arterial (typically residential) streets to as low as 20 mph. Currently, a costly and time-consuming traffic study is required.

The bill has essentially no major enemies. It passed the House last year 96-0 (!), but died on the floor of the Senate without getting a vote due to an unrelated stand-off. It gives local governments more control over the safety of their neighborhood streets, reduces the need for unnecessary studies and saves municipalities money without placing any financial burden on the state. These are ideas that appeal to conservatives, liberals, big city dwellers and small town folks alike. The top sponsors are Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline) and Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard).

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It’s not exactly a bicycle bill, but bicycle advocates and organizations are strongly behind it due to its general ability to make neighborhood streets safer. Neighborhood greenways, which aim for 20 mph limits, will also likely be aided by the bill.

Like last year, the biggest struggle the bill faces is whether legislators will make it a priority. Once it gets to a vote, people like it. The problem is moving it quickly enough to pass both chambers in time.

The House Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. The Bicycle Alliance of Washington has created some handy instructions for reminding your legislator that this humble bill is a priority for you.

From the BAW:

The Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill gives cities and towns the authority to create safer neighborhood streets by lowering speed limits on non-arterial streets to 20 miles per hour. As an added benefit it removes government red tape and cuts study costs currently required by the state.

Time is critical and we’re having a hearing this Tuesday, Jan. 22, in the House Transportation Committee. Now we need to remind our state representatives of their essential and unanimous support for this legislation in 2011 and 2012 and that the time is now to support it again.

Your reminder to your elected officials is critical in making this happen. And it only requires two simple steps:

#1 – Enter your mailing address here http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/ (choose Legislative, not Congressional) and follow the instructions on the site to reach a contact form for your state representatives (no need to contact your state senator right now).

#2 – Email each representative a note expressing your support of this important public safety legislation, HB 1045. We’ve included some model text for you to use—putting it in your own words will make it even better and more personal:

Dear Rep. _________,

I write to ask you to support the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill (HB 1045), which will be heard in the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The bill passed out of the House unanimously in 2011 and 2012—this is the year to finish what the House began twice already.

I urge you to let your colleagues on the committee know that you’re hearing from your district in support of this important safety legislation. HB 1045 provides more local control, offers an additional safety tool for local governments, removes additional study costs and red tape currently required by the state, and encourages active living by offering cities and towns the chance to create safer and more livable streets. Most importantly, when used in conjunction with engineering and enforcement, lower speeds on non-arterial streets can save lives.

As a constituent and voter in your district I would greatly appreciate your yes vote on the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill (HB 1045) to make our hometown safer for everyone from kids to grandparents.

[Your Name here]

Here’s the bill’s fact sheet:

HB 1045 fact sheet by tfooq

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